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32                A SEARCH IN SECRET EGYPT
"The eternal gods have formed thy astonishing body," runs a rough prose translation of the lines, "in their solicitude for a region burnt by heat, where thou throwest thy benevolent shadow. They have placed thee like a rocky isle in the midst of a large plateau, whose sands thou dost arrest. This neighbour, which the gods have given to the Pyramids, is not, as at Thebes, the man-killing Sphinx of (Edipus; he is the sacred follower of the goddess Latona, the guardian of the benevolent Osiris, the august chief of the land of Egypt, the king of the dwellers in the sky like unto the sun, equal to Vulcan."
Perhaps the greatest loss which the Sphinx has suffered from the hands of its wretched mutilators is the loss of its famed smile, that gentle, inexplicable and inscrutable smile which puzzled generation after generation of the ancients. Even seven hundred years ago the destruction was not yet complete and Abdul Latif, the Baghdad physician, philosopher and traveller, could write in his accurate and observant notes, of the colossal head which he found on. his visit an arrow's shot from the Pyramids, "This face is very beautiful and the mouth bears the impression of grace." Such praise, coming from a man whose work, On the Human Body, became a classic among the Arab peoples for centuries, is worth quoting,, "An intellectual man asked me what I admired most of all I had, seen in Egypt, which object had most excited my admiration,"^ continues Abdul Latif, who began his Egyptian travels shortly before 1200 A.D., and for answer, he is compelled to point towards the Sphinx. Alas his praise might not be so easily won to-day! The nose has been shot away, the plaited square beard broken off, the mouth sadly chipped and even thk sides of the headdress noticeably damaged. The once-benignant mouth now possesses but a half-wry expression, and has become a half-sad, half-mocking feature. But if the old Sphinx smiles no longer, it nevertheless continues to sit, despite its regrettable scars and injuries, in imperturbable disdain of the aeons.
Fitly, this strange creature, embodying the strength of a lion, the intellect of a man, and the spiritual serenity of a god, quietly teaches the inescapable truth of the necessity of self-control that man's being may surpass the animal in him and tame it. Who can glance at the great stone body, whose legs and claws